Gov. Beverly Perdue should have vetoed a bill that eliminated financial advantages municipalities had in setting up broadband service, a Libertarian Party of North Carolina spokesman said Friday.
“The governor should have vetoed this blatant intrusion into the free market and city business,” said Matt Drew, state party chair. While Libertarians do not believe municipalities should be in the business of providing broadband service, he said this bill does not create a “level-playing field” for private competition as supporters claim.
“The playing field is already tilted heavily, in the other direction — in favor of big service providers such as Time Warner Cable,” Drew said. “Supporters of this bill want to create a ‘faux market’ rather than a free market.”
“In a faux market, laws and regulations are written by and lobbied for by large incumbent corporations, with the intent of suppressing competition and protecting their market position,” Drew explained. “This bill is intended to protect these large incumbent service providers from city-owned network competition, closing a previously unnoticed gap in their market position defenses.”
Drew said that the governor should also work to the repeal the reporting and franchising provisions in the current state code. “This will kindle actual competition in this long-stagnant market, providing lower prices and better services for more North Carolinians,” he said.
The bill bars municipalities from borrowing money for capital costs without voter approval. They also can no longer offer offer Internet services at below cost or use funds from other city-sponsored utilities. Five cities that currently offer services, Davidson, Morganton, Mooresville, Salisbury and Wilson are except from most of the bill’s provisions. Other cities that can show poor high-speed Internet access rates also would be exempt